There’s something weird about the mist creeping slowly toward a sleepy little Maine town but, unfortunately for the good citizens of the area, the threat is well hidden behind the cloak of glistening mist. Poster artist Dave Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son (Nathan Gamble) see it moving toward their home from across the lake but are more concerned over their neighbor’s huge tree which crushed their boathouse during a horrible storm the night before than they are the odd fog.
The neighbor, Norton (Andre Braugher), isn’t the friendliest man on the block. Norton’s just a part-time resident of the area and doesn’t feel accepted by the locals. The fact he’s a lawyer with a holier-than-thou attitude doesn’t help his situation one iota. However, because his car’s been destroyed in the storm, he bites the bullet and asks Dave for a ride into town to pick up supplies at the supermarket. Leaving his wife at home to work on fixing up the house, Dave sets off to the store with his son and, very reluctantly, with Norton.
Once inside the store, things go from weird to downright terrifying. As the mist envelops the store, creatures begin to emerge and attack. The appearance of gigantic insects, spiders the size of a Volkswagen bug, and something with humongous tentacles make it clear this mist – which came from the direction of a nearby top secret military base where a hush-hush project called The Arrowhead Experiment was taking place – isn’t your ordinary fog.
Thomas Jane’s got leading man good looks yet he’s so good at playing the everyman/reluctant hero type of role. As Dave, Jane becomes the leader of one of two groups that form inside the store, and Jane really makes the audience understand why these trapped people would turn to him for help.
Jane’s group is sensible and logical – even in these illogical circumstances. However this sort of end-of-the-world occasion doesn’t bring out the best in everyone trapped inside the supermarket. Many are instead drawn into following religious zealot Mrs Carmody, played by Marcia Gay Harden. Harden’s absolutely fantastic as the irrational, sermonizing Mrs Carmody. Harden’s eyes flash and her body trembles as she calls for blood sacrifices. If the Academy voters are willing to consider horror fare, Harden’s performance in The Mist is worthy of a Best Supporting Actress nomination. It’s far outside the box for Harden and Mrs Carmody is one of the few characters this year who had the audience so worked up, even those who don’t normally talk to the screen were expressing their opinions of the weirdo religious freak.
Darabont loaded his cast with actors who embraced the concept of prehistoric-looking bugs actually existing. Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Sternhagen, Toby Jones, Laurie Holden and Braugher are standouts in the crowded cast of supporting actors.
Darabont’s adaptation is faithful to King’s work in tone and, in some cases, specific scenes are lifted nearly word for word off the page. Although Darabont chose to delete a love story – something which somehow worked in the novella due to King’s magical writing style, but probably would not have in the film – the essence of the remainder of King’s story is all there on the screen. The townsfolk come off just as King wrote them, as do all the main characters including Dave Drayton and the evil Mrs Carmody.
The Mist was directed by Frank Darabont and is rated R for violence, terror and gore, and language.